Labour must commit to dismantling the privileges of the private school system and ending the dominance of the ‘Old Boys Club’ in politics, party activists have demanded.
With Eton-educated Boris Johnson expected to be elected as prime minister at the end of the month – making him the 20th UK PM the school has produced – Labour members have called for a takedown of elite fee-paying schools.
Backed by former leader Ed Miliband, frontbencher Clive Lewis and Laura Pidcock, the Labour Against Private Schools campaign – which uses the handle @AbolishEton on Twitter – is urging for a manifesto pledge to integrate all private schools into the state sector.
The group – who want charitable status and tax privileges withdrawn from private schools – will try to pass a motion at Labour Party conference in September.
They are also calling for universities to limit the number of students they admit from private schools to 7% – the proportion of people who attend fee-paying schools in the wider population.
State secondary school teacher Holly Rigby, one of the coordinators of the campaign, said young people’s futures are still determined “by the size of their parents’ bank balance”.
It currently costs £42,501-a-year to send a child to Eton, with parents charged more than £14,000 each term.
“I am certain that our Eton-educated political class have no more talent than any of the free school meals students I teach - we only have to look at Boris Johnson to see that is the case,” Rigby said.
With the Tory leadership looking “more and more like an Eton versus Charterhouse varsity match”, it’s time for Labour to “pick a fight with our privately educated elites”, she added.
Meanwhile, Miliband said the debate around private schools “has been taboo for too long”.
“Their charitable status, resources, intake and domination of the upper echelons of our society have huge implications for unequal opportunity, social mobility and inequality,” he said.
“There are different options for change and I support this campaign because we need to open up the debate about reforming our education system.”
While Labour’s 2017 manifesto promised to charge VAT on private school fees in order to pay for free school meals, campaigners say the party must now go “much further”.